By David Morgan
(MAINNEWS) – WASHINGTON, U.S. Senator Rick Scott on Friday revised his plan to end all federal programs after five years to exclude the popular Social Security and Medicare programs, after enduring weeks of mounting criticism from Democrats and his fellow Republicans.
Democratic President Joe Biden had been hammering the “Rescue America” agenda, which Scott last year unsuccessfully urged his fellow Republicans to adopt as a midterm election platform. It called for all federal programs to end after five years unless Congress voted to reauthorize them.
“I believe that all federal legislation should sunset in five years, with specific exceptions for Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans’ benefits, and other essential services,” Scott wrote in an Op-Ed published online on Friday by the conservative Washington Examiner newspaper. “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again,” he said.
While Scott’s plan did not directly call for an end to the Social Security and Medicare plans for older Americans, it had not specifically excluded them until he changed his position on Friday.
Biden repeatedly highlighted the plan in his State of the Union address last week, and in some subsequent political appearances handed out brochures describing it, saying that it represented the spending cuts Republicans were aiming for in a showdown over raising the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.
Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy and top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell have both repeatedly been pressed to say that their party’s agenda did not include ending Social Security and Medicare, which represented 19% and 12% of federal spending, respectively, in the 2022 fiscal year, according to the Treasury.
“Let me say one more time: There is no agenda on the part of Senate Republicans to revisit Medicare or Social Security. Period,” McConnell told reporters at a Tuesday news conference.
Scott’s move also came a day after Republican former President Donald Trump urged him to support Social Security and Medicare in a posting on his Truth Social media platform. Scott is seeking reelection in 2024.
“Be careful, Rick, and most importantly, fight for Social Security and Medicare. THERE WILL BE NO CUTS!” Trump wrote.
The Scott plan previously said that “all federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
Its only direct reference to Social Security and Medicare called on Congress to issue an annual report telling the public what they plan to do when the programs “go bankrupt.”
On Friday, the plan’s website included new language laying out the specific exceptions Scott had mentioned in his Op-Ed. It also said: “Note to President Biden, Sen. Schumer, and Sen. McConnell – As you know, this was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the US Navy.”
The White House said the newly revamped Scott plan should not be taken at face value.
“We congratulate Senator Scott on joining the post-State of the Union red wave of Republicans acknowledging that they have, in fact, been attempting to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said.